Chemistry is taught by a team of specialist teachers and technicians in high quality, spacious and well-equipped Chemistry laboratories.
All girls study aspects of Chemistry in Years 7 and 8. The 2 year KS3 course is designed to enthuse and stimulate and includes a large amount of practical work which is fundamental to ensuring the development of highly competent and confident chemists. Planning and designing investigations and the challenge of explaining observations encourages students to think independently and challenge their understanding.
In Years 9, 10 and 11, pupils follow either the OCR Gateway Separate Sciences programme of study or the Combined Science version of the same specification. Both courses allow for access to A Level Chemistry, and provide an excellent foundation upon which to build. Lessons are designed to foster original thinking and encourage questioning, essential skills for success in this subject, and to gain an increased understanding of the applications of chemistry in the world around us.
At A Level this subject provides a range of skills desired by many employers including application, independent thinking, processing, mathematical manipulation, recording and analysing to name a few. A significant part of the course addresses practical methodology and techniques, with pupils able to work individually.
Further skills and passion for this subject can be developed and supported in vast array of extra-curricular activities within the Science Department as well as participating in events such as Salters’ Chemistry Camps and RSC Top of the Bench School Quizzes.
Chemistry at KS3
Chemistry lessons begin by introducing pupils to a scientific laboratory – how to work safely, and how to use pieces of equipment which are essential for the experiments they carry out through the course. The course is designed to relate Chemistry to everyday experiences and to generate enthusiasm for, and interest in, the subject. As much of the subject as possible is taught through practical work. Pupils enjoy learning to use a Bunsen burner when studying Simple Chemical Reactions. Other topics studied are Acids and Alkalis, The Particle Theory and Solutions.
Year 8 Chemistry lessons continue to use practical work wherever possible. Students are introduced to the Periodic Table and learn how to decode the symbols for the elements it contains. The topic Periodic Table provides stimulating variety and many girls enjoy bringing in samples and designing their own scientific investigation.
Finally, students experience and classify Reactions of Metals which are significant for future Chemistry studies.
Chemistry at GCSE
The study of GCSE Chemistry starts in Year 9, following the OCR Gateway Chemistry Specification J248. The majority of practical activity skills (Topic C7) is introduced in Year 9 and completed or reinforced in Years 10 and 11. Students sit two papers made up of both multiple choice and structured questions at the end of the GCSE course. Each constitutes 50% of the overall GCSE grade. Paper 1 assesses content from Topics C1-C3 and C7. Paper 2 assesses content from topics C4-C6 and C7, with assumed knowledge of topics C1-C3.
The six teaching topics are:
C2: Elements, Compounds and Mixtures
C3: Chemical reactions
C4: Predicting and identifying reactants and products
C5: Monitoring and controlling chemical reactions
C6: Global challenges
Chemistry at A level
A Level Chemistry develops at greater depth the topics which have been introduced at GCSE. Students find this course challenging and stimulating, and benefit from the intellectual demands made on them in developing their powers of thought. Practical work is undertaken regularly throughout the course, with students often working individually.
This course provides excellent preparation for future studies in many fields. Chemistry can be combined with Biology, Engineering, Food Science, Business Studies and Languages, amongst others. Chemistry is essential for studying Medicine, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy, and Dentistry. The importance of Chemistry cannot be overestimated in today’s world, where challenging economic and environmental conditions are driving the need for well qualified scientists.
Year 12 Chemistry consists of the following theory topics and six standard practical exercises, with practical skills being assessed in the written examinations:
- Atoms, ions and compounds
- Amount of substance
- Acids and Redox
- Electrons and bonding
- Shapes of molecules and intermolecular forces
- Chemical equilibria
- Redox equations
Periodic table and energy
- Reactivity trends
- Reaction rates and equilibrium
- Basic concepts of organic chemistry
- Organic synthesis
Students will be assessed in-house by two 1 hour and 30 minute written papers containing long answer, short answer and multiple-choice questions.
The Year 2 course consists of all the Year 1 content plus further theory topics and six further practical exercises, which will be assessed in the written examinations:
Physical chemistry and transition elements
- Students will be assessed in-house by two 1 hour and 30 minute written papers containing long answer, short answer and multiple-choice questions.
- Rates of reaction
- Acids, bases and pH
- Buffers and neutralisation
- Enthalpy and entropy
- Redox and electrode potentials
- Transition elements
Organic chemistry and analysis
- Aromatic chemistry
- Carbonyls and carboxylic acids
- Amines, amino acids and proteins
- Organic synthesis
- Chromatography and spectroscopy
Students will be assessed for the A level Chemistry qualification at the end of the second year by three papers, Papers 1 and 2 will each be 2 hours 15 minutes long, and Paper 3 will 1 hour 30 minutes long.